Keys to Business Development: Company Personality and Differentiation
A construction company’s marketing materials often fall back on the same boring “On Time, On Budget” spiel. While necessary components to running a successful construction business, a company’s marketing techniques must expand beyond just those completing work just on time and on budget.
Regardless of the industry, a company’s marketing needs to showcase two things that set the company apart from competitors: its personality and differentiation. This is especially important in best-value proposals, because the selection committee is looking for the right company. To win the bid, the company must educate the committee on why it is undoubtedly the best choice. It all comes down to the construction company’s personality being a good fit for the prospect and the successful differentiation of the company’s talents from the rest of the pack.
Not every company is a good fit for every client. Knowing the client in question is vital, and should be part of a company’s Go/No Go decision. A construction company stands no chance of winning the contract if it does not know the potential client. The potential client also needs to know the construction company; the proposal phase should not be the first time it hears the construction company’s name. One major reason people are in construction is because they like working with people in the industry. A formal, buttoned-up type of organization, probably doesn’t want to work for a group of artistic architects. In contrast, a fun, relaxed company probably wouldn’t want to work with the government.
Fit is crucial. When the construction team and the owner compliment each other’s personality, style and culture, the work environment will be good and the working relationship will be productive.
No two companies are alike, but the same cannot be said of their proposals. The proposal is an opportunity for a bidder to highlight the qualities that make it stand out, but many proposals recite the same litany of cost control, schedule control and the handful of services that every contractor offers. A serious competitor will position its business for success. It must be not just the ideal company, but the only company in the mind of its prospects.
Personality and differentiation are needed for more than just bid selections and proposals, and a business development manager must have more to say to a prospect than “Give us your business. We really want it.”
A good company is looking for vendors and subs to be a genuine resource for its business; self-serving salespeople will turn such companies off.
The best business developers understand that business is about relationships, and a large construction project is a substantial investment. The construction owner’s facilities manager typically is looking to make the project shine to benefit his employer and to enhance his own career. That manager wants to do business with firms he likes and trusts to get the job done.
The best business developers think like customers, and they understand the psyche of their buyers. If a buyer is a CFO and uses statistics to make a decision, or if one is dealing with a driving CEO who makes decisions with his gut, they should get the specific information they need and cater to their decision-making style. Knowing one’s prospect is vital to success so a company can tailor its proposals and interviews toward this specific decision-making preference. To sell multiple decision makers with different styles, a blend of techniques, such as a written statement about the scope of work as well as a chart or matrix, may work best.
Differentiation and personality highlight the unique qualities that will position one team above the rest. A retail consumer will pay more for a better value and something that fits his needs most accurately. A company’s clients will do the same, so long as the company educates its clients about what makes it unique and why it is worth more money than the competitors.